Judgement day. The #1-seed Flyers are on the brink of elimination from the Stanley Cup playoffs after falling to a 3-1 series deficit against the Islanders on Sunday night. With this truly being the team’s last chance to save the series, there’s one X-factor to bare in mind. Alain Vigneault has been here before.
Going back in time
As Head Coach of the New York Rangers, Vigneault rallied his men back from a 3-1 deficit against the Pittsburgh Penguins before falling to the Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals. Vigneault overcame that very same deficit one year later against none other than current Islanders Head Coach, Barry Trotz. It all came down to a thrilling game 7 where it would take overtime to find a winner. The victor was Alain Vigneault…and now he’ll be looking to make this his third 3-1 deficit comeback. If there’s ever man to bring the Flyers back from the brink, it’s AV.
“I think what we did back then and what we’re going to talk about with our group here is not looking at the big picture, but looking at that one game that’s ahead of you.” Vigneault explained. “This is a great opportunity, I think, for our leadership group to change the narrative, change their legacy here. Let’s focus on tomorrow night. Let’s go out there and compete the way we did yesterday. We’re definitely going to have some film to look at here, I’ve already obviously watched the game, a couple areas that I think we can do a little bit better in their own end. Hopefully we’ll be able to benefit from that.”
Back to the future
One thing arguably helping the Flyers is the belief that they’re doing enough. To the naked eye, some early turnovers, a lack of top-line production, and woeful powerplay efforts are haunting them…but if the effort is there and it’s just that final spark missing, things could be a lot worse and the leaders on the team know this.
“I feel like throughout all the games, both teams were kind of handing it to each other.” Kevin Hayes told reporters on Monday. “It’s mistakes that we need to fix that end up in the back our net. They’re a great team. Don’t get me wrong. They’re the reason that they are here. They got great players. I feel like a lot of goals that have ended up in the back of our net have been results of us shooting ourselves in the foot. Once we fix that, results should start to change.
Wiley vet and Stanley Cup winner Matt Niskanen echoed similar sentiments.
“I think the process was there. I think we competed really hard.” He said after the game 4 loss. “Inevitably they are going to surge at points in the game. You got to manage that and minimize their quality looks. They capitalize on a couple mistakes. I think the process is there. Guys are working their tails off. I believe we’ll start finding the back of the net. If we score a few more goals, we won’t have to be perfect without the puck.”
We all know how much talent is on this roster. We’ve seen it game in and game out. What matters now is ensuring that the effort that has been presented throughout this series does not dip, and that the execution rises. It falls on a coach to get his players ready…a coach who has been here twice before.
The Flyers will stake their claims to forcing a game 6 tonight at 7PM. You can follow the action live on our YouTube channel!